Two New York City students were inadvertently vaccinated for swine flu this week without their parents' consent -- a double error that illustrates the challenges facing inoculation programs under way in school systems around the country.
New York City's Health Department said nurses at schools in Brooklyn and Staten Island mistakenly gave the vaccine to two children whose parents hadn't signed a consent form.
The same thing happened Monday at an elementary school in the town of Oregon, Ohio, where a 7-year-old got the vaccine even though her mother had marked "no consent'' on a form, then circled it to emphasize her point.
None of the incidents have resulted in harm to the children, though one outraged Brooklyn mother, Naomi Troy, said her daughter, who has epilepsy, was taken to a hospital to be monitored for a possible allergic reaction.
"The school made a horrible mistake,'' she said.
She told the New York Daily News she hadn't consented to the shot because she'd been waiting for advice from her 6-year-old daughter's doctor. She said a teacher apparently sent the wrong girl to see the nurse, who didn't double check her name.
Officials from the city's health and education departments said in a statement that they were reviewing the "misstep'' and developing safeguards to prevent similar mistakes.
Health officials in Lucas County, Ohio, also made changes to consent forms after the incident there to reduce the possibility of confusion.
The logistics involved in obtaining parental consent to vaccinate large numbers of schoolchildren have proven to be daunting.
New York City, which has offered free vaccinations to 1 million kids, said that in some of the 125 schools covered by the first wave of the program, less than 10 percent of parents had given their consent. In others, the consent rate was running no higher than 50 percent.
About 1,800 children were inoculated in the program's first two days, or roughly 14 per school.
Some parents are probably wary of the shots. Others want their child to get vaccinated by a doctor, rather than through the school system. Still others either don't fear the virus, which is usually mild and short-lasting, or figure their children are immune because they have already had the disease this year.